As your West Linn family dental care provider, our team at Roane Family Dental believe that one of the most important parts of every patient’s oral health is one of the easiest to overlook – their saliva. While it’s easy to dismiss the saliva your mouth produces, it actually plays an incredibly valuable and important part of maintaining your oral health.
To fully understand the role saliva plays, you need to fully understand what saliva actually is. To no great surprise, saliva is mostly made of water – 99 percent, in fact. However, the final 1 percent is what makes saliva so valuable. It consists of a combination of proteins, mucus, electrolytes, white blood cells, and other antimicrobial agents. Saliva is produced by the aptly named salivary glands, which consists of sublingual glands, the submandibular glands, the Parotid glands, and hundreds of other minor glands as well.
The secretions produced by oral glands serve a variety of useful purposes. It helps begin the process of breaking food down while also helping to aid in swallowing. It improves the experience of eating, by improving taste. Saliva even helps enable us to speak, as it provides essential lubrication needed for the tongue to effortlessly move around the mouth. If you’ve ever suffered from prolonged dry mouth, you should be somewhat familiar with just how much saliva can mean.
Saliva & Your Oral Health
Saliva also plays a critical role in maintaining your oral health. The proteins and minerals found in saliva help to protect tooth enamel, preventing enamel from decaying and gum disease from developing. Saliva also helps to destroy harmful germs in the mouth, including those that are known to cause bad breath. By assisting you with chewing and swallowing food, saliva also reduces the amount of food waste that remains in the mouth after eating, which harmful bacteria can use to thrive in left behind.
Because of how big a role it plays in protecting your long-term oral health, your West Linn family dental care provider pays special attention to saliva production. Too little saliva results in the development of “dry mouth” or “xerostomia.” This condition can make the tissues in the mouth swell and expand, including your gums and the tongue. This creates an environment where germs can thrive, and increases the onset of tooth decay and periodontal disease. Dry mouth is especially common among seniors and has a number of known causes, such as certain prescription medications, cigarette smoking, dehydration, and other diseases like diabetes.
If you’re concerned that you suffer from dry mouth, schedule an appointment with your West Linn family dental care provider at Roane Family Dental. Our dentist will conduct a thorough examination of your current oral health to determine the cause behind the condition and the best treatment options for you.